New Database Gives Tree Scientists an Important First
They know how many different species exist: about 60K
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2017 12:25 PM CDT
A tree biologist climbs a Giant Sequoia to retrieve a sensor that measures temperature and humidity near Visalia, Calif.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(Newser) – Tree lovers, take note: A new database called GlobalTreeSearch has for the first time provided a tally of all the world's tree species. The answer: 60,065. Scientists from Botanic Gardens Conservation International in the UK spent two years compiling the database, relying on information from 500 published sources and from local experts around the world, reports NPR. In an article in the Journal of Sustainable Forestry, they note that it's the first overview of all known tree species by scientific name. The database will be "hugely useful for us in prioritizing which ones we need to do conservation action on and which ones we need to do assessments to find out what their status is," says BGCI exec Paul Smith.

Among their findings: Brazil is home to the highest number of species at 8,715, and 58% of trees grow in just one nation, making them vulnerable if whatever country that happens to be is lax on protection. Also, 10,000 species are threatened with extinction—with examples such as Karomia gigas in Tanzania, which were over-harvested to the point of being down to a total of six last year, reports the BBC. The list will be used to help the Global Tree Assessment assess the conservation status of each tree species by 2020. The effort comes on the heels of a 2015 study finding that there are probably more than 3 trillion individual trees around the world, notes the Smithsonian. Researchers estimate that 12,000 species exist in the Amazon Basin and that 4,000 in that area have yet to be discovered. (The Taliban recently called on Afghans to plant more trees.)

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